Playing L.A. Noire again was something of a blast from the past for me. It was a game that I remember enjoying a lot back when it had originally released back in 2011.I remember there was something very appealing about the game. There was always something that I had found interesting about it. There was just a special about the atmosphere in the game, along with a lot of the more interesting investigations. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly I remember liking in the game, it’s been so long. But at the very least, I remember it being one of those games that I felt comfortable enough to recommend. There was just something very unique about L.A. Noire.
L.A. Noire is set in the 1940s and has you playing as LAPD officer Cole Phelps. As you progress through the game Cole is promoted to different desks. These desks will task Cole with investigating different kinds of cases. After completing cases you also gain a little insight to Cole during his time in World War 2. I guess that you could say that this also serves as backstory. The cases themselves aren’t all that memorable. I did find some of them to be kind of boring. But I guess at the same time, I did feel that I at least found appreciation in the interactions and dialogue that went on. And I found that the overall story and characters made the game feel a lot more interesting, even during the times when the pacing felt a little slow. The game itself feels like you’re the main star of a crime drama television series. Each case feels like you’re playing a different episode. And the desks would be the different seasons.
In terms of gameplay, L.A. Noire is an open world action-adventure game. You spend most of your time driving from place to place during the cases, with occasional optional street crimes that pop up. The cases have you going around and investigating crime scenes, as well as questioning people. In some occasions you may have to chase a suspect down, and in others you may have to take someone down either lethally or non-lethally. It’s a good mix of variety in the gameplay. As for the street crimes, these basically act as a form of side content. The street crimes themselves are mostly different, so you can expect to see a good variety from them. There is also somewhat of a role-playing-esque leveling system in the game. Doing certain things will reward you with experience points that accumulate and rank up Cole. Ranking up will provide Cole with different rewards. These rewards include Intuition Points (which can help in various ways during investigations), or different suits. Outside of that, there are a large number of collectables and different landmarks to discover. Before moving on, I should add that the remastered version of L.A. Noire includes all of the DLC.
Moving back a bit, since I had mentioned Cole taking down enemies, I’ll try to get into the games combat a little. Being a game where you play as a member of the LAPD, there is obviously going to be some guns. Whenever you are in certain combat situations, Cole will draw his gun. Not being completely limited to the handgun either, Cole can also access different weapons by opening up the police car trunks. As for the aiming in the game, if you’re familiar with the more recent Rockstar games you’ll find it to feel very familiar. Like other Rockstar games, the aiming reticle in L.A. Noire is a small dot. You can lock-on to targets with an auto aim by pressing down the left trigger and then shoot using the right trigger. There is also a way that you can free aim as well if you aren’t fond of having an auto aim. Another thing worth mentioning is that during chases Cole can also aim his gun at a fleeing suspect to stop them from running. It’s another way to catch enemies that he is chasing after, so long as he has his gun out.
Getting into the world of L.A. Noire, you’ll find that it offers a relatively large game world. Unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be that much to it. Going back into the game after so many years, it just felt like it was missing something. I feel that this lack of overall content detracts from the game. There is replay value in going back and trying to get higher grades on case files, but after that there just isn’t too much to the game. It’s kind of a disappointing blemish. The emptiness makes it feel like a forgettable world. And that’s kind of sad, because it really is a waste. This all kind of leads me into the technical aspects of the L.A. Noire remaster. Like I said, the game world is huge. There is a lot that you could go and explore if you really wanted to. The environments and deco create a very immersive feel. It’s hard to not feel like you are actually living in the 1940s. The way that everything in the game world is designed just solidifies this as well. It’s just a visually stunning game. The facial capture still looked pretty dang good, but you can notice some aging. I did also notice that at times some of the body motioning would look incredibly awkward. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the game bugging out or if it was always like that, but I noticed that in a few scenes some of the body motioning didn’t entirely feel like it was fluent with what was going on in the face. Even with something nitpicky like that, it’s hard to deny the brilliance in the motion capture. For a game that was released in 2011, it was definitely ahead of its time in this aspect alone.
I feel that I also need to divert some praise towards the music in L.A. Noire. It really is fantastic. I just loved the tones of the music that plays during the drives to crime scenes. It felt like they would perfectly fit the current moods of the cases. It’s definitely something that I appreciated. As for the voice acting, it’s pretty top notch. The performances of the actors are mostly solid, though in some cases there was a feeling of overacting. But I would say that most of the actors in the game made everything feel believable. And that is something that I would say is most important.
Any of the issues that I had were minor. Playing this on the Nintendo Switch, I noticed some graphical pop-ins. It was a frequent occurrence, but I can’t say that I found it too bothersome. The most negative thing that I can point to is the framerate drops. These seemed to happen at random, but, I felt as though the frequency was higher around lots of NPCs. It’s an unfortunate price to pay for a port, but I feel that problems like this are hard to justify for an 8-year-old game on a system that is more powerful than the systems that L.A. Noire was originally built for. Before moving on, I should also mention that I ran into a few endless loading screens. It seemed to happen whenever I would watch one of the newspaper cutscenes. I didn’t seem to have any problems with loading outside of this. And again, it was only a few times. I didn’t really lose any progress when it would happen, but I feel that it’s still worth mentioning…just in case.
Coming to a close, and my final thoughts on the L.A. Noire remaster. Having not played it since it had originally released back in 2011, I was surprised at how well a lot of things had aged. The game still looked pretty darn nice, but I did feel there was something up with the character bodies. It was just strange. It didn’t detract from the games overall quality, but it was something I had noticed a few times. I also found parts of the story to be a little underwhelming. I honestly forgot that Cole had a family, so at the point of the game when he has an affair I was honestly confused. This is pretty much the only point of the game where you find out anything of his home life, and even then…it’s very brief and feels completely pointless to add this extra subplot. There was no reason to care about Cole’s wife and kids because we didn’t even know they existed. Yeah, it’s sleazy of him to do that…but really, there was no build up to this to invoke any kind of emotion. It was pointless. Now in terms of the overall story, L.A. Noire definitely has its strong moments. I felt like the game shined during the homicide cases. There was just this overall buildup. I felt as though the homicide desk was the most interesting part of the game. It feels like after this point the game just started to slowly dwindle down to a crawling pace and lose a lot of momentum. It does seem to pick back up towards the end, but at that point the game is pretty much over. I guess that I also felt like there could have had more done with the world. It felt desolate. There was no real point to go off and explore or anything. You’re pretty much just meant to just go from point A to point B. I feel that this takes away from even having such a massive world. I feel that more side content would have taken this game a lot further. I don’t really feel that having a collectathon makes up for that lack of content either. It’s pretty dull. Anyways, in closing I do find L.A. Noire to still be a fine game. I think that this remaster would appeal greatly to someone who has never played the game. It’s interesting enough to at least go through once. I guess that I don’t really feel that it has a lasting appeal, there isn’t really anything that’ll change about the game if you play through it multiple times. The outcomes will always be the same. In 2011, I would have probably said that this was one of the best games that I’ve played. In 2019, it has its repetitive moments. The game was a technical feat back in the day – sure. But the games content does gets stale. There are some things that felt like they got old really quick too. I think that the game is still worth experiencing at least once. I don’t feel that it’s perfect but it’s still alright. I still feel there should have been a sequel made years ago, unfortunately that may never happen. As far as I know the game only costs around $20.00. L.A. Noire is a good buy for that price. If you’ve never experienced this game, I would definitely say it’s worth checking out.